SA Imports ‘passionate’ about Scotland

Date published: June 3 2015

Scotland coach Vern Cotter has backed South Africans Josh Strauss and WP Nel to play their hearts out against their homeland at the World Cup. 

Although neither South African is yet eligible to play for Scotland, Glasgow captain Strauss and Edinburgh prop Nel have both been included in Cotter's 46-man World Cup training camp which kicks off next week.

Both will fulfil the three-year residency criteria required to represent their new country this month and are likely to feature in Scotland's clash with the Springboks in what could be the Pool B decider in Newcastle on October 3.

Both are also fully deserving of their selections with Strauss having led Glasgow to an historic first Pro12 title while Nel has been a stalwart in the Edinburgh scrum. The inclusion of 'imported' players nevertheless remains a contentious issue for Scottish rugby.

"I am happy to see these two players pull on a jersey and play for Scotland because I think they want to and I think they deserve to," said Cotter after announcing his squad on Tuesday. 

"Just look at Josh for Glasgow at the weekend. He was outstanding. WP's children were born in Scotland.

"When you talk to these players they are very passionate about this being their country. This is where they live now.

"I think they will add value to the team. If it's going to make this team perform well, that's a good thing."

Cotter hopes that Glasgow's success in the Pro12 will bring much-needed confidence to the national set up after a dismal Six Nations campaign ended in five consecutive losses. Almost half the training squad is made up of Glasgow players. 

"That experience will be important," explained Cotter. 

"Winning is important. We said to the guys after the Six Nations: 'Go back to your clubs and win something' – and they have largely done that.

"So there will be a lot of confidence in this group as we try to develop these young men before the World Cup.

"We know the bar will get raised much higher at international level, especially at a World Cup. But we will let the Glasgow players celebrate for a couple more weeks and when we come together we will look at what we want to achieve and strive towards that."